tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 30, 2014 5:00am-7:01am EST
let me just jump in and suggest that the president made it very clear what he thinks we should be doing. made very concrete proposals. lots of things that the republicans should be able to embrace and work with us on. we need to make sure, for example, that when you are working, you should not have to do a tremendous amount of hand wringing about how you're going to be able to sustain yourself in retirement. so ensuring that we have an automatic enrollment process in an i.r.a., when you get it start a job, that has been proposed in the president's budget every single year since he's been president and unfortunately the republicans have not been willing to take that up. last night he proposed in the absence of congressional action a myra program so we can have a treasury bond that people can invest in, low-wage workers can invest in, so they can eventually transition that to an i.r.a. that is not a concept, i mean, i hope that's a concept -- let me speak optimistically, that the republicans can embrace. we should at a minimum make sure
that people who have a job aren't living in poverty. the overwhelming majority of americans support a minimum wage. we should make sure that we create manufacturing opportunities so we can make things in america again. president obama's established two manufacturing hubs already and proposed four more last night. but acknowledged that we can actually kick that into even higher gear if republicans are willing to work with him on actually passing legislation to do that. but at the end of the day, we have to make sure that we're focused on working together and, kevin, i actually -- we have a good working relationship. i think there are things that we can sit down and come together on. week of talked about that privately many times. but look at what the republicans' agenda was this week. with all due respect, to suggest that your top priorities have been focusing on helping more americans join the middle class when yesterday the top priority for republicans, on your agenda, was to restrict a woman's right to make her own health care
decisions through pushing through legislation h.r. 7, i mean, that's stuff that's reaching the top of the republican agenda, not economic bread and butter issues, that's why the president's speech was heavy on those and showed the contrast between the priorities of the republicans. >> let me just fill the audience in. the house voted and passed yesterday a bill that would restrict federal funding for abortions. is that right? >> which is already law. >> taxpayer money. people have a difference of opinion on it. so why do you use somebody's taxpayers -- people have religious -- >> this is far more than a difference of opinion. this is legislation that would go much further. we have federal law that already prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion. that is in statute, codified in the affordable care act. further buttressed by president obama's executive order that he used to make sure that it was clear that that was not allowed. and the republicans, because their top priorities unfortunately recently have been narrow social issues, and a
rigged social agenda rather than making sure -- >> -- talking points -- >> no, no, no -- it's not talking points. yesterday that was the bill you put on the floor. >> number one thing here is about the economy. >> exactly. which is why we shouldn't have had a bill on the floor yesterday that focuses on restricting women's access -- >> -- farm bill. >> i'm going to try to play what side of the common ground here. >> great. [laughter] >> i try to divide them all the time. now i'm trying to bring them together. the myra concept which was new to a lot of us last night, i hasn't heard the white house, this wasn't one of the things that the white house projected. what was the initial republican take on that? is that something you should be open to or are open to? >> i don't know the specifics of what he had, but i'm a big believer in allowing people to
invest their own money. look, einstein said the only miracle in this world is the time value of money. compounded interest. i come from a family of not wealth. my wealth is what i put away. i started my first mutual fund putting $50 away and it built. just like with my kids' college. i love the idea of giving somebody the opportunity, tax- free, putting something away letting them become more self- assured in the future, that they don't have to rely on somebody else. to me that is a structural idea that we can sit down and talk about. tax reform. build it in. >> you heard it first here. the myra concept is not yet dead. [laughter] not yet. it's only 8:45. we only have a couple minutes left here. so i want to ask you both, we're now in january and obviously the elections are rapidly approaching. both of you have key roles. you both raise a lot of money for your party. both have key positions within the party.
tell us exactly why you think each of you in 2015, your party will be in control of the house and the senate. >> i want to hear hers. >> you first. [laughter] age before beauty. [laughter] >> ow. that's probably true. >> we should create a talk show with them. >> first, within reality, i don't see democrats gaining the house. if you look at the retirement, if you look at the prospects of where the seats are, you look at the latest "the washington post" poll, just on economic voters. we're the strongest point we've been since 2002, at any time during the president's time served. i watched the other side stand up when it came to health care. i think obamacare comes in three waves and i think voters are going to send a real message. as of today, more people have
lost their health care than actually gained. if you watch the approval- disapproval. at the end of the day the house will end up with more republicans than they currently have today. in the senate, this is a true play for the majority. it's actually expanding where it could before. for that same reason that democrats stood up for health care, as the d.n.c. chair, she says they're going to run on that. those that determine the majority of whether they keep in the senate will not. even in the questions last night, account president come into their state and campaign for them? that's a difficult part when you're running against. both parties have been in these places before. i think the senate is up for a majority as well for republicans to take over. >> will the president campaign? should he campaign with people in arkansas, alaska -- >> yes, he should. [laughter] >> in answer to your first question, yes, i do think that in 2015, i'm not going to confidently predict that democrats will take the house
back -- >> oh, come on. >> what i will predict is we're going to pick up seats. >> where? >> because -- [laughter] down, boy. [laughter] and it's because if you look at the contrast of the president's speech last night, unfortunately for the republicans, and the country, they are strangled in a civil war where the tea party has been allowed to take control of the agenda, as evidenced by the legislation that was the top of their priority list this week. restricting women's access to health care. the pew poll, we can throw out a lot of different polls, the pew poll, almost extremely credible, shows more americans want democrats to be in charge of the legislative branch in government after the election. more americans trust democrats to move our country forward when it comes to the economy. and more americans are concerned about republicans' ethical considerations. for lack of a better term.
the stark contrast between the priorities of democrats, we are wanting to focus on more americans joining the middle class, and republicans continue to be engaged in a civil war and are focused -- i didn't interrupt you. and are focused on much more though, on a rigid social agenda which, you know, doesn't even get to the top five or 10 for the majority of americans. >> we have to wrap. that was a very lively conversation. thank you very much for joining us. i would like to welcome mike allen and voidable want to the stage. -- boyd blunt to the stage.
>> good morning. thank all of you for being here this early morning after you were all making news and doing what you were doing. we appreciate c-span bringing these amazing conversations to our audience. we are with senator boyd blunt. senator blunt the most important thing you learned about president obama was what? >> probably the most important thing i learned that i didn't
know was that i thought he was the most comfortable giving his speech that i had seen him giving any of the state of the union speeches. i thought he had some really good moments of showing that who he -- he was relaxed with who he was, but i don't think we should be relaxed about where he has -- is headed. the madman moment was pretty good. signing your mama -- mom up because you should call her was pretty good. it was generally well done and well delivered. these are my snow boots. [laughter] i would have one other shoes today, but i was walking my little boy to school and we walked from the parking garage to the school here in washington. i had better put my boots on to
do that. >> you are on the escort committee last night. you got to talk to the president. what was that like? >> he seemed pretty relaxed. i think frankly he and mrs. obama have done a great job with the girls. they have done a great job as parents. they have been a really good example is a family of prioritizing what you do as a family. it is one of the things i think they have done very best. because of the age of the girls i think sasha is the youngest, i am not sure. one will still be in school when he is done being president. >>he said, they may stay in washington another year or so so she can finish school. i think that is a good example for the president to set as a
father. the best i can tell he is doing the best kind of things a father and a husband can do. he said he appreciated that and the girls were growing up fast. i think that is another thing that is on his mind a lot erie it up quickly these kids are growing up. he said something about his children and grandchildren -- you could see that as a guy who has beginning to think that is going to happen and happen quicker than he thought he was going to happen. >> no pressure there. during the speech, you had an exchange with denis mcdonough. >> he was sitting in front of me. when the president mentioned one of the things that could happen which is this idea of a unique manufacturing hub, the chief of staff turned around and said that is your bill. there is lots of bipartisan legislation out there that could happen. the president, more than anybody
else in the country and the government, is in the best place to figure out what he would like to have happen as possible. that is the element of the art of government that the president has had the hardest time putting together. not just what he has for. what he is for that he could actually get done is more important. he has had a hard place figuring out -- a hard time figuring out how to get to that place. nobody is in a better place than him to figure out what could clearly happen. manufacturing legislation things that advance american energy. the excellence in mental health act that is supported by veterans groups, by behavioral health groups, by law enforcement that would simply
allow us to expand, at very little cost, the access to behavioral health at federally qualified health care centers, community centers. that could happen. the president could be signing that into law sometime this year if he would just, maybe even if he does not get involved. if he does get involved, all of these things are easier than if he does not. we could see a number of significant things happen if the president wants to be part of that. >> for those of you in the room there is a mobile polling question on the screen for you to use. those of you on live stream, hold that print edition with the headline, obama to congress, if you won't, i will. senator blunt, the president has been talking about his pen, what do you think of that? >> the president with three years left in his presidency
which is the length of the entire presidency. -- kennedy presidency. he has that much time left to say that i'm sort of giving up on both the congress and maybe the constitution. if there is a reason that things are supposed to be done the way they are supposed to be done and normal order of things in legislating, in governing and in life and occasionally you can violate them and get away with it, but if you violate them over and over again, you will face a significant problem. >> what is he violating here? >> trying to shortcut this process and think that is the way to get things done. i don't think that's the right way. it takes more effort on his part to pass a law than to sign an executive order, but one, think a number of these executive orders are questionable and two,
they don't necessarily have to have a life beyond the president. when he was running for president he said i'm going to look the every one of george bush's executive orders and see how many of them i need to eliminate immediately. this is sort of like if you are running the race around a track and you decide, well, i deserve to win and i'm pretty important i'll cut across the middle and get to the finish line, you are disqualified at that point from being named a winner. i would like to see the president make the effort it takes to get things done the constitutional way and there are plenty of things that we can do if we did them the right way. >> there are things in washington that are starting to work after saying -- talking for years now how broken washington is, looks like republicans are not going to shut down the government again or have a serious threat to.
there was a budget deal. senator blunt, you are on the appropriations committee, you were mentioning to me that it looks like the appropriations process actually might work for the first time in -- >> in seven years, which is both a tragedy and travesty that we haven't done this the right way. appropriating sounds pretty boring until you set your priorities, how you set your priorities with your family and your personal spending and how you set government priorities and not one time in seven years has the process worked the way it's supposed to. the other day, we brought all the appropriations bills to the floor, a third of the year into the spending year and passed them all at once. actually that was a step forward because many of these appropriations bills haven't been updated in years. a year ago when we started
talking about cutting the line- by-line cutting which happened when we didn't follow the law and appropriated more money than the law said we could spend, the so-called sequester, didn't have to happen. it only happened if you violated the law which says this is how much money you could spend. the point i was going to make, when we brought the service chiefs in and i'm on the armed services committee and commerce committee and brought them into the committee and later to the defense appropriating committee and every one of them said the sequester is a problem but you are cutting a budget that we haven't wanted for years. you are cutting lines in a budget that met our needs six years ago that doesn't meet our needs now. this would be like a family and set aside money to remodel the bathroom and every year for the next years you couldn't touch that column for the next years. and in the government, either
you don't use that money at all and you remodel that bathroom. but getting the priorities in order, updating what we need to do, if we take these bills to the floor as the new appropriations chairman, senator mikulski and senator shelby, the leading republican on that committee would do, take those bills to the floor like we did for 30 years in a row and let any member of the senate or house and bring a amendment as they would like to spend the money to the best of their ability, defend the bill they brought to the floor, but occasionally members come up with something better than you thought of to spend that $10 million and that's how you set priorities. so one thing about the system working again, we have set the bar now so low that we surely can get over it. we can chin that bar because it's not a very high bar.
if we go back to the normal way of doing things -- you know, to legislate, we don't have to a total rewrite of the tax code to do better than we have been doing. we can look at the pro-job- creating bills. surely some of those could pass the senate. we could look at these manufacturing things that a number of us are involved in a bipartisan way, and energy will drive manufacturing. more american energy doesn't just create the jobs that produce the energy. all kinds of jobs begin to be created if you are confident about the future of the utility bill, if you know the delivery system is going to be there because you figured out how to make that part of the process work in a better and more dependable way, all kinds of things will happen if we get
busy and do the things we need to to get the economy going. >> in the house, you were the number three leader, majority whip when i was covering the house. you never lost a vote on the floor. what do you think the chances on immigration are this year and you were telling me this year you feel strongly that doing immigration in pieces does make sense? >> i do, and when i was the majority whip in the house that's when the republicans were in the majority of the house we didn't lose bills on the floor but we never passed bills. two bills in all the time i was in the majority whip six years passed without democrat votes. that means hundreds and hundreds of bills passed with some democrats voting for every single them. two times in six years that we passed a bill that didn't have democrat votes. i think that could be right.
i have to look and see, but there's more division, and part of that is that there's no sense that this bill is going to find its way to the president's desk. it's a different ask when you are asking members to vote for something that is going to become law, that is actually going to change the country and then say let's vote on this because we want to make a statement. but on immigration, i have said this for a long time, there are at least three distinct questions to be answered, how do we secure the border, both at the workplace and the actual border in a better way? what are the legitimate workforce needs of the country? and what do you do with people who came illegally or stayed illegaly. and 50-50 came without documents and some came here illegally and then they just stayed. what do you do with those people
and my vote is or my view is rather, that the same majority in the house and senate that are the best majority to come up to question one, how do you secure the border, may not be the best 218 people in the house or 50 in the senate to come up with the answer, what are the workforce needs in the country and what do you do about people that came. you are going to get a better solution to all those problems if you'll deal with them one at a time than to try to deal with them collectively. and on many occasions, difficult problems had to be broken up and solved in pieces to get the best solution rather than just a solution and what we should want here would be the best answer to all of those questions, not just we don't want any answer unless
we answer them all at once, is that the right goal or the right goal how do we get the best answer to this challenge. >> one of your roles for leadership is working with members on the importance of social media. what are you telling members what they need to be doing this year? >> we have seen such a revolution in the way people communicate in the last decade and probably in the last three weeks. there is some communicating thing going on right now that i'm not even aware of and interestingly, the closer that members have to running for election and six years in the senate is a long time. the closer they have run, they appreciate all the different ways people want to communicate with you. and every one of the senators now is doing things -- republican senators with media they weren't doing a couple of
years ago. >> is it hard to convince some of them? do you have to prod some of them? >> once their staffs gets into this as well, it matters. i started three years ago telling a story -- i think it was in one of the books about lyndon johnson but a story about sam rayburn and when he was a young member of congress, he probably had a staff of maybe two or three but told his staff how do -- he said if people write us a handwritten letter, i want you to write them a handwritten letter back. if they type us a letter, i want you to type the letter back and i'll sign it. he said if they write it on a big chief tablet, i want you to write a letter on a big chief tablet. what he was saying, i want to communicate with people the way they communicate with us.
it would work more efficiently if you respond the way people communicate with you. the number of letters we get in our office trying to communicate in all different ways, we don't get many letters anymore. and many of the questions that people ask, they don't need to get a complicated answer. if they say is senator blunt for or against this bill. our correspondents who do most of that and i say what do you need to know that you don't know. and i say to them, if someone says says am i for or against a bill, say yes or no. probably half the time that's plenty of answer for them. and if it's not the right answer, they'll challenge you back and say why is he not for this bill and then you have that discussion. but yes or no is all they need say yes or no and go onto the next question and let's
communicate with people the way they want to communicate with us. >> how many books to you read in a year? >> i read a lot of books in a year. probably read more books than probably health care legislation. [laughter] i read a book a week, about 50 books a year. >> that is an agreed practice. and we are going to have america's best senate correspondent. i think those of you on c-span all of you here. and senator blunt, thanks for this conversation. [laughter] [applause] >> senator, thank you for
>> senator, thank you for joining us. senator rob portman of ohio. get right to it. you have been in washington for some time since the 1990's and worked in the two bush white housees and former house member and been a senator since 2010, how would you say this beats ranks to other state of the unions over the years? where does this rank? >> the president as he always does, but there were no big proposals and it was kind of the me an ambivolent speech. the state of the union is going great and he said it's not going so well and therefore we need to make some changes in terms of take-home pay and long-term unemployed and he said i want to
work with congress and then he said, by the way, i'm going to go around congress. as compared to other states of the union that i have listened to, the message was muddled and hard for me to really know what he was trying to communicate. i believe he is uncertain about what kind of second term president he wants to be and there are a couple of models and bill clinton in his second term was more productive and did more in his second term than the first term. think of welfare reform. 1997 balanced budget agreement which dealt with medicare and taxes as well as putting the government on a diet that ends up with a balanced budget over a period of several years. i think he has a decision here. and so i think that speech was reflective of where he is, which is he is not giving us a clear message.
>> he did mention a handful of measures you think you could work with him on. trade promotion authority something that you have been involved with working in the u.s. gr. -- ustr. democratic leaders are very skeptical. do you think the white house is committed to getting this done or is this a nod towards bipartisan? your mind? >> i hope so. i think there were several openings. i think one was on trade and the president made it clear that he is going to promote what he should have been doing along which is the ability to knock done barriers. it is crazy that the united states of america for the last seven years hasn't had the ability to negotiate a trade agreement and that is all about.
that is what trade promotion authority is to read it gives the president the opportunity to sit at the table and get the last and best offer. only negotiated one agreement that wasn't done under a trade promotion authority. every president has asked for it except this president until last year. he needs to come out swinging on that and say i need this and he needs to go to his democrat former colleagues and say, you have to allow me as president to be able to interact with the world. we can't sit on the sidelines and used that last night. >> needs a bigger push. >> bigger push. last night was a good start. i hadn't seen it until last night and we need to encourage him and his cabinet to be out there explaining to the american people and going to democrats saying look, this is something that is incredibly important to our country right now and losing market share every day as we are not knocking down barriers other countries are.
they are negotiating. 100 trade agreements have been negotiated while we have sat on the sidelines. that hurts us. and i as president want that authority to be able to help move the economy forward. >> have you had any conversations with the incoming finance committee chairman getting that bill through committee and onto the senate floor? do you think there will be action in the finance committee? >> i think there will be and get democrat support and i have talked to him as recently as last night. >> was he receptive to it? >> you have to talk to him. he believes in trade and represents a state that is huge in exports and got good provisions in the t.p.a. that relate to digital products and specifically i.p. issues and intellectual property issues and there are good aspects for some democrats who are concerned about labor rights environmental concerns, digital economy. i think has a good prospect of getting through the finance committee with several democrat
votes and i hope all the republican votes and i hope we don't hold back on given trade promotion authority to this president because it is right for the country. >> you have close relationship with people in the business economy. -- community. last night the president talked about the debt limit. when you talk to folks in the business community, how concerned are they about default? and do you think that that congress should increase the debt ceiling without any strings attached? >> talked about this before, when you look back over the last few decades, only thing that's ever worked to get congress to restrain expanding is a debt limit discussion. gram rudman came out of a debt limit discussion and so did the 1997 agreement we just talked about and george bush 41 didn't get re-elected.
the budget control act led to this improvement on the discretionary side of the budget. let's not squander this opportunity and do something about the underlying problem which is the spending problem. i'm not saying add extraneous issues to it but it's like the credit card in your wallet. when you extend the credit card for you or your family or your kids max out, what do you do? you say what do we do with the underlying problem. >> you have the white house saying, we want a clean debt. >> no president in the history of the united states has taken that position. they have all negotiated on it. >> you are saying -- >> this is the underlying problem we have right now in my view. you have a president who refuses to engage with congress, even talk to congress, so he stands up there and says i'm going to go around with congress, but i won't even talk to them.
i mean there is a difficulty of getting congress and the president to work together. i think there are several openings. if you won't engage and talk to congress, it's a tough vote. when i say to my constituents we have $18 trillion debt and $140,000 bucks but if i voted to extend the debt limit again without getting any changes in spending -- i mean that's a tough vote. >> what would you -- >> nobody wants to default. >> what do you think the prospects are? >> i don't think we are likely to default. why? no one wants to default. we should be responsible about this. the president should be responsible and say just as presidents bush, clinton, reagan and carter, when you have to raise the debt limit, by requirements you have to raise it, you say this is a tough vote and this is the credit card, and both we extend our limit, i want
to work with you. the attitude shouldn't be i'm not going to even talk, i refuse to negotiate on this issue. i feel strongly on this because it's something we glossed over last night and we continue to gloss over that everything is fine in terms of the debt and deficit. it's not fine. the congressional budget office has told us we are in deep trouble. they said we are back to trillion dollar deficits within 10 years and say we are going to have a 100% increase on the mandatory side. >> if the house sends something over to you and have the senate >> the process ought to be that the president ought to engage with us, both sides of the aisle and come up with some sensible changes on the spending side and ought to be on the mandatory spending side. 2/3 of the budget is on auto pilot. that's where the big increasesr
that's where the potential is to actually address this long-term problem that is very clear that will otherwise bankrupt the economy over time. and there are some great ideas there, one that i have been pushing is means testing in medicare. why wouldn't the president want to take his own budget that is a $56 billion savings and $450 billion over the next 10 years and say let's do that. in the past, democrats have said they can't touch medicare unless there are tax increases on the rich. that is a difficult logic to apply to cutting benefits for the wealthy. let's say reducing medicare for the wealthy through some premium increases in part b and part d which is in the president's budget. all of us have different approaches. let's take the president's own policy proposals and put it as part of the debt limit discussion and tell the american people and say we did something to deal with the problem and it is on the mandatory side of the
budget that was on auto pilot that will grow that will bankrupt. >> jobless benefits, you have been involved in those discussions and the president really went after republicans last night for their votes against the latest proposal to move forward. what other discussions right now with senator collins, senator reed of rhode island, senator heller, how likely are you going to get a proposed deal and what are you looking at to pay for that? >> it is doable. i'm one of the republicans who voted to have a debate. we have a proposal that was rejected. the majority leader had his own proposal. we didn't get to have a debate on those issues, but the reality is we are pretty close. it's a three-month extension and
during that time we want to do precisely what the president said last night, reform the unemployment insurance program for long-term unemployed. >> what is the pay-for. >> and we want to pay for it. if you are not paying for it you you increase the debt and deficit. if you can't pay for it, you definitely should. i have ideas including stopping the double dipping between unemployment insurance and social security disability. there are lots of waste and fraud and other issues we could go after. the democrats are talking about smoothing pension contributions. there are a number of -- >> are you ok with it? >> i heard about it for the first time. there are ways we can pay for it. what's more significant and more exciting for the american people, how do you change the unemployment system to help people obtain the skills they need to access the jobs that are available today. >> we have to wrap up. but one last question.
one thing you learned about president obama last night, what is that one thing? >> i think he's not sure what kind of second term he wants to be. i think the president has an opportunity to engage with congress and work with us to resolve some tough issues, one is the long-term unemployed and skills and get the country back into trade and expanding jobs. it's all of the above, energy policy and can and should be done and talked about tax reform and corporate tax reform. these are areas where we could give the economy a shot in the arm and work with him. he needs to make a decision because it won't happen without his leadership and specifically providing a little help to democrats and support to democrats to be able to work with us to get these things done. >> senator rob portman, thanks for your time. [applause]
we want to welcome senator joe manchin from west virginia. [applause] senator, you are a former west virginia governor and i'm wondering, when you were governor, did you ever go before the state legislature in a state of the state speech and say i'm going to go around the legislature and do things because -- i can't work with you and i have to do things at an administrative level? >> never. why? >> first of all, do you think someone says they are going to do with or without you. you are going to hunch down and try. i would like the benefit of the doubt, the president is very frustrated. i understand that. if you are an executive, you
have been frustrated. i worked with the right and left but bottom line i have to get something accomplished for the people of west virginia. that is what i was elected to do. i have to figure out how i get everybody to vote. and the bottom line is, you never put your opposition in an embarrassing position and don't send them home. >> do you think -- >> we have an atmosphere up here if you don't you you'll get me. that's not getting anything accomplished. if i was trying to get you on the other side of the aisle and know we are a different party, but still we are trying to get something accomplished, i can't go out and berate you on issues and think you are going to work with me on monday and go to your district on friday and try to defeat you and raise money against you and say i need you on monday because this is what's great for the country. you have to build trust and relationships and that's what it starts. >> you think his going around
congress ruins the relationships? >> he isn't going to go around congress. i would have liked to think he could have chosen better words. first of all, the constitution gives executives so much leeway. you have powers that you can do something. and you are in charge of the operation. all the agencies you have, they deliver the services that people depend upon. the laws that have been passed gives that agency the power to do things, are they exercising it in a prudent manner. you don't have to say anything. my goodness, keep moving around. and if you do, go out with the playing field and someone says wait a minute, governor or mr. president, you are going too far here. let's sit down and talk. let's interpret it this way.
>> is he going too far in doing things on an administrative level? >> i keep seeing frustration. i have trade it. maybe he believes in his heart to the best of his ability he has tried everything he can to people together. you don't give up on that, that's the challenge. do you ever try hard enough and accomplish it and are you able to get frustrated to the point that you think i have the powers to do it. i just don't think that is his intent. it came across pretty harsh, pretty direct and you will see america pushing back and the opposition take it to a different level. >> is it unconstitutional, concerned about him expanding -- >> he might try. no difference than when he had the recess appointments. goes to the court. he doesn't want that.
he wants to get something done so bad. i could see the frustration level. i have been down that road before and my goodness, can't they say this will get people back to work and can't you see simplifying the tax code. i like that he said incentives reward corporate deduction because of the job you produced. you give me something in return. i need value. people need value. jobs is what people need in west virginia. at some corporation, god bless them all. have to make these investments. their return or incentives should be if you want to have an offset, you have to produce a job for it, not just using the code, if you will. >> you talked -- he talked about energy last night and that is a big issue in your coal-producing state. >> energy is a big issue in this country. >> he said yesterday, climate
change is a fact. >> absolutely. seven billion of us made an impact on this. >> give me your assessment of his administration's efforts to regulate carbon emissions and coal-fired plants and the effect that is having on the coal industry. >> let me give you the facts. first of all, the coal industry, as you know it, whether you like it or don't like it or don't understand, it produces the majority of the power for this country. it produces 35-plus percent of the power. only thing close to it is natural gas. 75% of the power. you can wish all you want right now and i'm a total believer in wind and solar but i'm realist, it's only going to produce that much. if you are relying on it, you would be cold. that's a fact of life. even the department of energy, the president's department of energy, energy information
agency said you will be able to depend on coal and need it for the next 30 years. the president acknowledged that we reduced emissions in the last few decades. >> what about the e.p.a. regulations on coal-fd fired power plants. >> we should be working together with the technology. $8 billion has been laying there since 2008. none of it has been spent looking for technology, r&d. if we reduced emissions thus far, we did do more. we burn less than one billion ton of coal in america. >> do you believe that the line that the administration is waging, the so-called war on coal? >> if you had someone shooting at you every day, you would think you were in a war. >> you think that? >> you have this moving target and performance standards saying
they want coal and gas, the same air standards. they can't. it's physically impossible. and all we have said, why don't you take a more realistic approach, look at the six best coal-fired plants in the country and use that as your standard because they are already producing. you are depending on energy. if you want it cleaner, find examples. if you want better, invest things in research and get private and public sectors working together. this is how we cured all of our other problems -- he never even mentioned coal and it produced more energy. and he said we are going to cut credits, $4 billion. we have been subsidizing wind for the last decades at 2.2 cents. -- per kilowatt hour. >> how much is the president's unpopularity in your state to keep rockefeller?
>> his numbers aren't good in our state and they have gone down, one of the two lowest, wyoming and west virginia are two of the lowest states of his approval. and i said listen, the president is my president and he's your president, whether he or she democrat or republican. you want that president to do well. and i have never been against something that i didn't think i had a better idea. just to be against it because they all have a perception. i go out and defend immigration. not a popular thing. people just don't know. you have to mainstream these people and get them productive citizens of america. we will all benefit by it. so these things here constructive criticism, they have a hard time taking constructive criticism.
>> you mean the white house? >> maybe the people they are defending and saying ok, that makes sense. let me give you the facts on this. have some real intelligent discussion. >> if hillary clinton becomes your presidential candidate or nominee, how does that affect the democratic party, can there be a resurgence for the party there or is the state shifting pretty rapidly to the right? >> west virginia is the northern most southern state in the united states. we are right on the mason-dixon line. so we are the last but seeing a national trend, a lot of social issues, a lot of lifestyle that people don't understand. it's just one of those things -- >> a shift to the right. >> it doesn't have to be a permanent shift. if you look at the entire south, i'm still very proud west virginia democrat and i have a lot of friends who are proud
west virginia republicans. we don't really relate to the washington democrats a lot or the washington republicans. so it's a little different. and we are not just running against, it's just who we are. and west virginia, you can be pro-life and pro-choice and be pro-labor and pro-business. >> do you want hillary to run? >> i do. i don't know if there is anyone more qualified who has had the experience. experience, hard to replace that. the experience she has had, seen it from the front line, first lady and governor's end of it. the governors have a perspective that is different. we have to balance the budget. we work towards a time line every day as a governor. when the crisis hit in 2007- 2008, most governors meet once a week with the policy, we had to meet every day, meeting twice a day to try and keep a handle on finances.
we don't see that urgency in the federal government. saying, we have got to balance this budget. the last time the budget was balanced was 2001. it is 2014 now. think about it. and no one is talking about it. >> quickly, if there's one thing you learned about president obama last night, that would be what? >> i learned that his frustration level is very high and parts of that speech, we are going to work together and be americans. i would like to think he misspoke and picked his words poorly and say if you don't want to be an american, i'll be american myself. i don't think that was his intention. it came across a little bit as that and i would hope that we could come together and there are a lot of good people who want to work for the country. senator joe manchin, thanks for your time. [applause] >> i'll introduce my colleague
with senator richard blumenthal. >> good morning. thank you for joining us. we appreciate the opportunity to talk to you. i wanted to give a quick reminder those to to participate in the polling question and we'll get to that. i want to start where you left off, what was the one thing -- the biggest thing you learned about the president last night? >> that he is frustrated with congress as the american people, as i am and going to use the full reach of his authority, not exceed it, not overreach, but use all of the authority that congress has given him to give action to the american people and whether it's the minimum wage or immigration where he has already acted or veterans, which is such a pauferfully important issue, he is going to use
-- how were fully important -- powerfully important issue, he is going to use executive orders and promulgate the regulations that are delayed. one of the problems is the overdelay in issuing rules in order to implement the law. >> a lot of your colleagues on the right said he was overreaching by his call for executive actions and trying to go around congress. do you disagree with that? >> i disagree that the president will overreach. he has used executive orders less frequently than recent -- any recent president, not by a little but by a lot. the numbers were in the papers this morning about how infrequently he has used his authority. this authority has already been given to him. in fact, there's a strong argument that he should have been doing more executive orders much earlier in his presidency but i understand that he wanted to work with congress and still
does, but he is going to use the full reach of his authority to implement the law. he is simply executing the law. >> focus on obamacare, focus on energy policy, but what were you most invested in and got constant mention, for example, intelligence reform, n.s.a., where do you want to push that issue? >> i would like the president to continue to emphasize the need for stronger judicial oversight. i have proposed and advocated a constitutional advocate, a public interest advocate in an adversarial process. the president has embraced that idea. i would like greater openness in the fisa court so more rulings and opinions and decisions are made public.
we cannot have secret laws made by a secret court. and i would like to see more of that expressed by the president. but obviously, he was focusing on a theme that has such compelling power right now, the theme of economic opportunity. i think it was a home run. and the veterans' issues, more speaks physicianity in terms of -- specificity in terms of the programs that will help not only brave and dedicated veterans like sergeant remsburg but like the guest i had last night suffered traumatic brain injury and has come back to be an advocate for veterans, health care and also on military sexual assault because she was a victim of sexual assault while in the military. i would like to see him talk those issues, embracing some of
the ideas that are in the bill that chairman sanders of the veterans affairs of the committee, senator sanders of vermont and i was very pleased to be a leading co-sponsor when he introduced it. health care, educational opportunities, skill training. >> what about gun legislation coming from connecticut and the tragedy that happened there, giving the odds of it getting some momentum this year. is it hit a stale mate? >> uphill, but still has a chance. the thing to keep in mind here is and i have lost sight a little bit, too. president reagan was almost assassinated. and jim brady was shot and paralyzed and still it took 12 years to adopt the brady handgun law, 12 years, which makes 12 months look like a sprint.
we have to be prepared for a marathon. we are going to bring the bill back in some form. background checks, mental health initiatives, a ban on illegal trafficking and straw purchaseses. the american people want it. 90% of the american people favor it. and i think it will come back in some form. maybe this session, maybe not. but in some form, it will come back. >> talk a little bit about the immigration reform, house republicans are potentially doing something. are you optimistic something will get done. anything you can do to try and push progress along? >> i think immigration reform will be done. on the list of priorities likely to get done, veterans, immigration reform, i think are at the top.
and i say immigration reform because everybody has a piece of it. the president has mentioned the issue of high skilled workers needed by american industry. we need to educate our own engineers and scientists and computer experts. but in the meantime, there is a desperate need for those skills. agricultural workers are needed. the nation cannot allow 11 million people to remain in the shadows. and the dreamers, one of the president's guests was a dreamer, i believe. so i think there is real currency, political currency to this issue, and i think it will get done. again, not everybody is going to get everything that they want. little bit like the farm bill, which took a while to get done.
>> in erm it is of that these are issues that often get into the political grit loch we talk about and write about a lot. the partisan nature of the speech last night some people said didn't necessarily help the movement, the momentum in the direction of getting things done. do you think that there's any sense that the president went too far? that he should have pulled back a little bit? >> i think things are getting done. hopefully we're going to have the debt ceiling solved. we have a budget. the farm bill. i think that there is a series of measures that are going to break the dysfunction, at least to an extent. flood insurance. infrastructure. you know, everybody in that congress has railroads and roads and airports and schools. they're all decaying. metro north. and the amtrak line that i'm willing to bet a lot of folks here rode today is a 20th century track.
50, 70 years old in some places. and your train going home is going to break down, is going to stop just like last thursday night in the new haven line, people were stranded out on the tracks in one of the coldest days of the year. soverb has a stake in infrastructure. and there are ways to do an infrastructure bank a railroad trust fund, this is an idea that in the absence of earmarks, i came to congress in the post- earmark era, the senate had abandoned earmarks to the -- over the protests of many of my more seasoned colleagues -- >> would you like them to come
back? do you think that would help? >> i think what's needed is maybe not specific earmarks for specific congressional districts or even states, but i think a solution that provides something for everyone in infrastructure. >> one of the things we talked about before coming on stage was veterans affairs. i know it's something you're very involved in. the president talked about the troops quite a bit but didn't set any policy. this is maybe something to have bipartisanship on. can you lay out a couplele of places where you think that might go? >> i think the invisible wounds of war are an area where this nation simply has failed to address our only gation. post draw mat exstress traumatic brain injury. different veterans of different ages and different eras have different needs and challenges so what we need is a really comprehensive, broad, big approach like the bill that i've offered, proposed by senator sanders, chairman of the committee where i serve.
i see this issue through the eyes of two of my four children who have served or are now serving in the military, through the eyes of their contemporaries, making dillingses about what to do with their lives, some having come back from war with real needs and challenges and we have not even begun to address that obligation. so health care. counseling. skill training. job opportunities. there is a range of challenges and needs that we need to meet and again, the president can't go into all of these details in the state of the union, but i'd like to see his support for the kind of omnibus, comprehensive bill that we propose in the senate through the veterans affairs committee. >> i wanted to end on kind of a lighter note. you were cull can -- you were called in "the washington post" a while ago, a jewish robert redford when you were an f.b.i. prosecutor. i wanted to get your sense of the afghan scandal and how
closely it hugheses to the movie from -- hues to the movie in your experience. >> at the beginning of the movie there's a line, some of this actually happened. about 5% of the movie actually happened. i took a lot of grief from the f.b.i. team i was working with at the time, i was the u.s. attorney in connecticut, and the movie bears a faint resemblance to the truth. interesting, i think it's a great movie. but i wouldn't look to it for what actually happened. >> from your personal experience. all right, well thank you so much, senator, i really appreciate it. >> thank you. \[applause] >> welcome congressman chris van hollen. thanks for joining us. >> great to be here. >> we will get started. you heard some of what the senator spoke about and i want to get your read in terms of kind of the one thing you
learned about the president last night, you know, this isn't his first speech that he's making to congress, you've met with him before. was there any kind of insight that you drew? >> first, i thought the president -- \[inaudible] i want to thank michael grimm for delivering the republican response which essentially said to the american agenda, i'm going to throw the agenda over the balcony, the president's agenda. i think that sums up the republican reaction in the house. i think what we learned from the president last night is that he's someone who can bounce back from a tough year, resilient determined not to have the country go as slow as the slowest boat which is the house of representatives. he laid out a number of specific challenges for the country and the american people. asked the congress to join him in those challenges.
but also made it clear that he will look for every avenue within his authority to move the country forward, that congress is not the be-all and end-all and he'll engage business leaders and educational leaders and civic leaders, as he's doing today in both maryland and pennsylvania, to move forward wherever he can. so look, i think resilience is a characteristic the president demonstrated last night. >> in terms of the speech, when you look at it, i was talking to house derms before, what was the anticipation, they were nervous he wouldn't give them enough to run on in the elections. do you think he did to try to turn people out in 2014 for you guys? >> the interesting thing about the president's agenda, i don't think it's just red meat for the base, i think it's overwhelmingly popular with the american people he laid out specific initiatives. while it was under the important umbrella of opportunity for all and economic empowerment and more shared prosperity, he set out very specific initiatives. so let's increase the minimum
wage. so someone who works full time is not below the poverty level. let's allow people to earn paid sick leave so you can take care of a loved one who is sick. and not have to worry about missing your rent payment. he talks about universal early education, talks about closing corporate loopholes that encourage companies to move overseas and take some of those savings and invest them in infrastructure here at home.
on every one of those if you looked at the chamber last night, republican were sitting on their hands. i don't think those are red meat democratic proposals, i think those are commonsense proposals that will resonate throughout the country. what happened in 2006 which was the last shift over in the house, what we said during that election, what the democrats said if you elect democrats as the majority in the house, here's a specific list of things we'll do. we called it the six for 2006. it was a way to break through some of the clutters and say ok, republicans say they want job growth and economic opportunity, so do democrats. but how do you distill that in a meaningful way that will impact people's lives? minimum wage, paid sick leave, universal pre-x and -- pre-k and some of the specific thicks the president laid out will impact the lives of real americans. if we can get people to focus on the details the contrast will be clear and helpful. >> one thing you have been very involved and focused on is campaign finance reform. would you have wanted more and where -- how are you going to try to push that issue in the coming months? >> there are a couple of pieces to campaign finance reform and voter empowerment. one is clearly the millions of dollar that was pouring into
these races. and you know, my focus has been, look, i'd like to have campaign finance reform so that we can reduce the impact of special interest money but for goodness sake, at least the american public should know who is spending that money. and that is why i was the author of the disclose act in the house which passed the house a number of years ago. failed in the senate by one vote in the end on a filibuster after senator ted kennedy passed away we were not able to get 60 votes because scott brown voted against it. but the disclose act and that idea in transparency and accountability is very important to the public. the president has spoken about it in the past. we will be speaking about that more in this election because it relates to all these other issues. the reason people are secretly financing and bankrolling these campaigns is not for charity. it's because they have in most cases an economic agenda. and apparently they're not proud of the economic agenda they want to implement because they don't want the american people to know who is spending the money. we do think there's a clear
connection between these, you know, bread and butter kitchen table issues that are important to the american people and the issue of campaign finance. the last point i'll make is the president did talk about voter empowerment and the fact that nobody should have to wait in line five or six hours in order to exercise their ability to vote in this country, again, i think those things also resonate with the public system of republicans are going to have to explain why they're against a proposal that was derived by the president's former campaign counsel and mitt romney's former campaign counsel. if we can break through on these sensible policies that are not red meat to the democratic side but i think really should be red meat for the whole country, then we can move forward. >> what's your sense on immigration reform, the house republicans look like there may be a little more optimism there, they're going to be going to the
retreat this week, discussing the principles. is there anything that democrats can do or are you hearing neg in terms of making you more optimist exthat something might be passed before the elections? >> well, the jury is still out on this, right. as you indicated, the house republican caucus was going on their retreat today and will have -- we'll have to see how this shakes out theasms president pointed out last night, and it is important for the country to know, the senate did pass a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill and it would pass the house today if the speaker would allow us to vote. there are enough votes in the house today to pass comprehensive imgreags reform, the president could sign it tonight. the speaker is holding it up. he says he's going to look for another path. we will see. he's got a lot of folks in his caucus that are dead set against
any kind of comprehensive immigration reform so we can hope, and i do hope, that they'll come together but right now, it's -- it's hard to put really great odds on that. >> on that point, how big of an issue do you think this is going to be for 2014 in terms of turning out the vote, if immigration reform doesn't happen, and then also, i wanted to have you touch on the number of retirements you guys have been facing in the house. there's a lot of longtime, veteran lawmakers making the decision not to run. >> sure. i think immigration reform will play an important role in the mid-term elections because as i indicated, you know you do have this bipartisan bill in the senate that the house republican party has refused to allow us to vote on. and you know, people know that. and so if the speaker is unable to, you know, muster a majority in his caucus or however many vote he is think he is needs that clearly will be an issue that's laid at his feet as something that he was unable to do despite the fact that he had a bipartisan bill sitting in the house. again, i think it's another specific initiative that will differentiate the parties going into the mid term elections along with those other sort of kitchen table and bread and butter issues i talked about.
in terms of retirement, look. i'm sure you talked to some of my colleagues, george miller we're going to miss him terribly as we'll miss all of them. i mention george, he's been there for 40 years now he said it was time, time to go home and be with his family and do other things. and i think if you talk to other members who are retiring, you'll find the same thing. you know, again, in most -- >> you don't think it says anything in terms of the democrats' ability to take back the majority in 2014 or 2016? >> most of those retirements are in congressional districts we will win.
there are a couple in tougher districts. but the same is true on the republican side system of no, i don't think it says anything about the prospects for taking up the house. we will pick up seets in the house and the question is whether we'll reach the critical number of 17. and what i would say is that as we move through this new year, we're going to have a national debate on all the issues that the president raised last night and again, if we can get the public to focus on he specifics and make it clear that if the house goes to the democrats, you will get a national minimum wage increase, if the republicans don't go along with it between now and then. you'll get earned sick leave paid for your family. we will push for universal pre- k. we will push to close down those corporate tax breaks that incentivize companies to ship jobs overseas and invest in infrastruck cher here at home. if we can crystalize the election on the specifics, i think we can break through.
>> we're going to get the hook here, this is something we're going to be focused on a lot, we have a story out today saying republicans are not going to go to the mat on the debt chairman, they're going to cave. you're budget chairman, you have bhn involved in this talks, do you think they will cave? >> this is when it would be interesting to be inside the republican caucus in maryland over the next couple of days. as you've heard in the last couple of weeks, republicans keep saying they've got to get something in exchange for the debt ceiling. you know what? you don't get to enact your republican agenda in exchange for paying our country's bills on time. you don't get something for upholding the full faith and
credit of the united states. you don't get something for agreeing to pay for something that congress on a bipartisan basis has already voted on in the past. and so, if they make the mistake they made last october, and essentially threaten to shut down the government and much worse, i mean if you were to put the full faith and credit at risk, then i'm sure there will be a big public price to pay and the more level-ed -- level- headed members of their caucus recognize that but the question is whether the tea party element will essentially run the show. they did a little bit of breaking that fever with the bipartisan budget agreement but that is still a major part of the house republican caucus and when it comes to imgreags reform and the kind of question we're talking about with respect to the debt ceiling that remains the fundamental question. this sort of war within the republican party, are they beginning to reconcile or not? the fact that they had, you know, multiple responses to the
state of the union address, the tea party response, the libertarian response, the official response and of course mike grimm's response. the fact that you had multiple responses seriously shows that there's a real division that continues. >> thank you so much congressman. really appreciate it. >> thank you very much. >> i'm going to welcome mike allen back to the stage, he is with senator patty murray, chair of the senate budgeting committee. >> thank you, anna, and thank you all for being here and thank you who are watching. we have the honor of being with senator patty murray, chame of the senate budget committee, the fourth-ranking senate democratic leader and the number one ranking senate democratic woman. senator murray, last night the most important thing that you learned about president obe ma was what?
>> i think what i was most impressed with was there's a lot of discussion about him being not engaged, he was very much engaged. he knows exactly the issues the american families are talking about, their hopes and dreams, and spoke directly to them. i felt he understood where the country was. >> senator, you were on the escort committee, you actually interacted with the president. what was that like? >> well, actually, i happen to be talking to the president at the exact same time that michael bennett was, we had a discussion about who the president was going to be rooting for on sunday and i won -- no, actually the president was going to get in the middle of it. but uh -- but we know who's going to win. >> now chairman murray, things have started to work in washington, we thought that wasn't possible. and you were a big part of that. the budget deal you made with your house counterpart, pule ryan, was an amazing
accomplishment. you and were talking about how an important part of that was the personal relationship, the trust you established. there was a token of that trust you presented with chairman ryan. tell us about that. >> as you know, a budget discussion can be very difficult and challenging and the way that we broke up our tension most often was to talk about football. i happen to have a very good team this year, the seahawks and his team wasn't doing so great so i would give him grief about russell wilson who happens to be from wisconsin. so he kind of became our point of bringing our discussions back to somebody we both could support, so once the budget agreement was done and we had voted on it and gone home, i called the seahawks and russell very graciously signed a jersey to paul and i brought it back here and presented it to him. it was a great moment and he now has a real treasure. >> now senator murray, how do you keep the momentum going from that agreement? >> i think that's really an important question.
i think one of the things that kept ryan and i together working on this agreem was the knowledge that the country felt broken. like democracy can't work. my country can't work. that is a very bad feeling for a family -- for families businesses, communities, everybody, wanted our country to work. and that focused us on making sure we could find an agreement. i think what i have heard so much from people coming out of this is, thank you for showing me that there is a way forward that people can work together. and i think if we keep that goal in mind, on all of the tough issues that we face, that the country is counting on us to find ways to move forward and to come to an agreement. surely we have partisan differences, surely we have different philosophies but to not make them feel like the country is broken. >> something fascinating you said to me as we were chatting back stage, was that the success with the budget agreement might be a template for eventually getting tax reform done. how would that be? >> i think there's a couple of things that we learned, one is to trust each other not to take things out of a negotiation room, to use politically against
each other in trying to reach an agreement. but i think the bigger template for tax reform is that we didn't try to do everything, all at once. i think the country has been through a lot. people are really feeling fragile. and they want to know that nothing big is going to happen that changes their life so dramatically that they can't figure it out. so we set our goals smaller. a two-year deal. replacing sequestration. doing it in a way that didn't really frighten people or impact people but brought back certainty. i think the lesson for tax reform is that we have to do the same thing and actually the president suggested last night
in his speech that we perhaps fund investments in transportation infrastructure by looking at closing -- closing some tax loopholes and bringing money home here to the united states to invest in something that's important to families and businesses and communities. so instead of taking it home we're going to throw the entire whole thing out and start all over, you don't know what will happen to you when you fill out your tax forms next year rather, taking small things and pushing forward in a way people feel more comfortable with. >> you must have felt pretty good last night. the president's priorities seem to be a number of issues that have been your priorities for a long time. specifically on inequality. i've heard you talk about how that impacts women. >> absolutely. when women are earning 77 cents on the dollar, that impacts their ability to be able to put food on the table. when 2/3 of the people who are on minimum wage are women that impacts their family's security.
i lived this growing up because my dad was -- had multiple sclerosis and there were seven kids -- >> purple heart. >> yeah, made in america. my mom, raising seven kids, not working, had to go back to work and couldn't find a job that had the same kind of pay as my dad and it was very difficult this impacts millions of families across the country system of that job security of raising the minimum wage and dealing with income inequality and providing the kinds of support that families need, they're not asking for the government to run their lives or control their lives but just to give them that little bit of support when they need it to get backen their feet and be able to be a thriving citizen. >> all your family is on pacific time, late at night after we were all exhausted, after you'd done an npr interview, you went home and were texting and emailing with relatives and there was one specific thing on their mind. >> i have a a big family.
four brothers two sisters, and multitudes of people beyond that. one thing they were all saying to me was they were so impressed that the president talked about women and fighting for women and giving them a place and some security, whether it's income inequality or whether it's minimum wage, fighting to make sure that women have the support they need, preschool education they all love that. because everybody has women in their lives that are important to their family, to their income, and they want every american to be able to have that. and i thought it was striking particularly because that's how the women on the floor of the senate, the democratic side, felt too when the president -- and the president spoke to all of us. >> there's been a lot of attention to the shriver report. how do you think that that's changed the conversation around minimum wage? >> i think that has brought front and center what the actual issues are that women face. look, what every family wants today is certainty. that they've got the income coming into their house to be
able to provide for their kids and fair families, certainly something every woman cares about, and men too, but women in particular. this is something they consciously think about. so the shriver report really pointed out some things that women were really feeling, like it's not just me that's struggling, it is something that is struggling in this country that we really need to pay attention to. >> of all the things you know about chairman murray, there's one thing you may not know and that is, she's a fisherwoman. >> that's right. >> what do you catch? >> i'm from the west coast and i catch salmon and i am -- i usually compete with my family and win on that one too. >> where are you going to watch the super bowl? >> i will be at home with family and friends watching the super bowl, cheering on the team that's going to win, the seahawks. >> by how much? >> i have a prediction that sherman will intercept a pass from peyton manning and we will win by 13 points. >> that's an optimist. now, you're going to drive, you usually fly but you're going to drive from your house to here.
>> i've done that before. it takes a long time. >> how long? >> well, actually, the shortest amount of time is my husband and i had to drive a car back to my daughter when she was in high school and we left here and arrived two and a half days later, driving four hours each every time, splitting it. i'll never do that again. >> if you did and you had to take with you russell wilson or richard sherman who would you take? >> i would take both. fantastic conversation. and sherman is a very smart individual and one that i think contributes much to his community, his family does as well and certainly russell is a young, ener jet ex, very compassionate individual who has a lot to share. >> chairman murray, thank you for being here.
before we say good-bye, i'll tell you who is next, i lost my paper here. thank all of you who are watching on c-span, thank you in live streamland, thank you all and chairman murray, thank you. \[applause] >> senator chris coons from delaware, thank you for joining us. we'll get started right away. tell us about, we were talking about this back stage, you were
at the white house a couple of weeks ago, you talked to the president before his state of the union, what was the message that you delivered to him there and how did he respond when he gave his speech last night? >> manu, what i wanted to challenge the president to do is speak directly to the american people in the state of the union last night about the broad pack about the package of bipartisan manufacturing bills that are introduced, could be brought to the floor and could be passed. i spoke about the manufacturing jobs for american initiative and went through the caucus and said there's always a great bill on community colleges that al franken is leading. on skills and skill certification that kay hagan is leading. on cutting read tape for manufacturing that shaheen is leading.
earlier that day the president had been in north carolina. to announce the law firm of the second of these advanced manufacturing hubs. my challenge to the president was, it's great to speak about new york inequality. it's important to talk about raising the men mum wage and extending unemployment for those out of work but it's not creating a ladder into the middle class. these are things, concrete good, bipartisan things you could do. it's too early to give up on congress. please speak to these, please challenge us, get taos do this. >> does that concern you, the fact that he did talk extensively about going around congress, to do -- does he need a more sustained push within congress to get things cone this year? >> i think the speech was balanced. each time he spoke about an executive action he was going to take, for example on the men mum weage, he spoke to congress asking us to reach an agreement. one specific moment on opportunity and mobility he spoke to the earned income tax
credit and specifically spoke to senator rubio, having some positive, concrete ideas he'd like to see us work together on. enge the speech would have benefited from more of that, from more specific, outreach. one of the applause line he is got was that this nation, where the nation of a son of a single mother and the son of a bar keep could be the president and speaker of the house has always stood for opportunity that got sustained applause because it's essential outreach and in part because it recognizes a reality right in front of us, that his tore exly we have been a country of almost unrivaled opportunity and today we need to take action to continue that. >> what do you wish you would have heard more of last night? >> no amount of talking about concrete actions to grow the middle class through expanding
manufacturing would be too much so i think he could have gone through some of the specific suite of bills i just mentioned and i would have been even happier but he dedicated a fair amount of the speech to that. i do think there were a few things i wish he'd been a little clearer and stronger on, n.s.a. surveillance issues in particular, i think there's more that the president needs to do. there's an oversight hearing late they are morning with the attorney general where i know a number of us will be pressing him on exactly how he plans to deliver on the president's plan to move the section 215 metadata collection from government control to third party. there's a number of difficulties around actually -- >> do you think that will work to create a third party to store this metadata? >> i think that will be very challenging to deliver on, to execute on. i respect and appreciate the president's tone on surveillance issues which is to listen and to work with members of congress, republican an democrat, who have expressed real concerns about how do we keep america safe, how do we recognize that we really are in a world where we need the
valued services of our intelligence community and our armed forces but we also need to execute on making america safe in a way that respects our most fundamental values, which are our ability our civil liberties and privacy. >> you're also on the foreign relations committee and one of the foreign policy issues he talked about last night was an iran sanction. he urged members of congress to hold off on pushing that bill until the negotiations play out. you support this, co-sponsor this iran sanction bill. do you think it needs a vote before the negotiating period ends? >> now is not the time for a vote on the iran sanctions bill. enge that sanctions have so far played a very constructive role. sanctions have brought iran to the table and the sanctions passed by congress during the bush administration, during the obama administration, this administration has finally delivered on bringing together a multinational coalition of our allies and our partners to make those sanctions work, to really cripple the iranian economy and bring them to the table. now that we have this joint plan
of action, now that it's been signed, i and others are digging into the details, figuring out what did we really get? reviewing in a classified setting the iaea report to see if this agreement is as good as it's sold as being and i think that's what congress should be focusing its attention on now, making sure the resources are there for the iaea inspections and making sure the questions we have about the scope and promise, there's a dozen issues we should be working that through with the administration now while holding the bill which i still support and keeping it as a possible future action. for now, i intonet support moving forward with the bill. >> if there was a vote on the floor on that bill now you would vote no? >> i would urge we not move to a floor vote now. >> do you feel this is a prevailing view within your caucus right now? that a lot of folks support it? >> i think there's a wide range of views. i think to the extend that we simp he excite further the dissonance or the tension between the administration and congress on this, that doesn't serve our shared goal of making certain that iran does not acquire nuclear weapons capability.
the thing that most troubles me is that president ruhani of iran, and past fwoshting teams from iran have a demonstrated pattern of negotiating while continuing to make progress towarder that goal of acaring nuclear weapons capability. i'm concerned that the negotiating framework at the moment doesn't require that iran dismantle any of its core capabilities. it simply requires them to stop them in place. this administration, though, has made real progress. in iran really is taking its 20%, etc. highly enriched uranium stockpile and converting it to ox side or cutting it back
to 5%, if they are revealing us to plans for the water reactor if they are giving searching inspection capability, that's real progress and we need to give this window this miami of opportunity for peace, a chance. but if there's any country in the world i don't trust to actually abide by its treaty commitments, it's iran. i think there's an appropriate role for congress in holding the president accountable, in supporting the negotiates, but in making it clear that we will act on sanctions at a moment's notice if the iranians default on these negotiations. >> let me ask you, the affordable care act, another area they was speech last night, you're up for re-election in the fall. how much concern are you hearing from businesses about implementing this law, small businesses and do you think -- you've never had a chance to vote on this, you were elected after the law was enached -- enacted, should there be legislative fixes on the floor this year to cheage elements of the law that may be difficult to implement?
>> i was pleased that the administration heard concerns expressed by many -- by me and many others on behalf of the sol tier fire service. i'm from a state with 60 volunteer fire companies and for a century they provided all our emergency response they respond to car crashes, house fears, they play a central role in our community. and there was an unanticipated impact on volunteer fire companies because the i.r.s. treats volunteer firefighters as employees for tax purposes. the administration responded promptly. there are many other challenges that could be done administratively. some of the more fundamental fixes such as concerns from small business owners what is the part-time/full-time definition? what is the numb of full-time employees? is there way to make it less after a cliff and more of a smooth transition, that's a difficult broader conversation. s that difficult environment to move bipartisan legislation to improve the affordable care act as long as one caucus is relentlessly determined to repeal the act and so really is not yet committed to working in
a positive way. the u.s. chamber has moved from a commitment to repeal to a willingness to work with legislators to improve it and the white house has been positive, has been welcoming of a discussion about how we can improve it, so i will work with the white house and with any legislator, republican or democrat, who wants to improve this law. i will not support bills that will gut it or defund it or deauthorize it. >> politically does it make sense to bring a bill, any bill, even a narrow or minor bill to the floor, given the environment and how republicans are running against this law in the mid terms? >> i choose to be an optimist, i have to be to get on the train and come here every morning, as we were talking about. i choose to see very positive signs, you just heard from
senator murray who did a wonderful job of leading a bipartisan budget committee effort and got us a budget deal for the first time since i've been here in the senate. we now have an enacted $1.0 trillion appropriations deal and i think we're days away from having, from the -- for the first time in five years a bipartisan farm bill. these are not huge advances but they are demonstrating that we can work together on the thing that was previously caused government shutdowns, fiscal cliffs. i think we should keep open the possibility that we can improve the affordable care act legislatively. i think it's too early for us to
give up on legislating this entire year. but a clear-eyed view of the wreckage of the last three years and the inability to move important bills suggest this is will be quite hard. >> you're from delaware, you take the train to work as joe biden did, your predecessor in your seat. do you think he should run for president? would you support him if he did? >> i supported joe biden when he ran in 1988 tissue in 1998, in 2008 an i look forward to supporting him. i think he's one of the strongest vice presidents in american history. that's why the president has relied on him for a whole series of challenging and important roles in this administration. just last night you heard the president focus on the importance of skills. there are 600,000 currently unfilled high-skill, high-wage manufacturing jobs in america and he tasked the vice president with looking at all the different job training program reducing them, coordinating them, focusing them, that's exactly the sort of thing i know the vice president is focused on, fighting hard for america's middle class. no one knows more about it fights harder for it than joe biden and whatever role he seeks in the future, i'll support him.
>> one quick thing you learned about president obama last night? >> he's a compelling speaker, he has a great sense of the moment and a presence and he was able to lift even a sharply divided partisan congress to its feet by repeatedly reminding us that nothing worth having in life comes without work. he lifted our eyes and got us to focus on sergeant remsburg up in the gallery. previous presidents have used this in a more frothy way a brief positive story. the story of sergeant remsburg is one of enormous suffering and challenge and he foused not just on his heroism and combat but the long, hard work of his recovery, both directly and indirect amessage to the american people. we're in this together but with determination we can recover as a country and be stronger again. >> senator chris coons from delaware, thank you for your time. now i'd like to introduce my politico colleague for our final discussion of the day. >> jennifer, thank you so much for joining us -- joining us today.
one great thing about wrapping up the event is you get the last word. >> that's good. >> one question i have to ask you, we heard from a will the of republicans today and their recurring them was the president is talking about executive orders. they said, one said he wanted to stick a finger in her eye, he's going to circumvent the process. tell us about that. >> this is not an either-or situation. this is -- the president wants
to pursue all the avenues he has. so he wants to work with congress where he can and then he wants to act on his own where he can. so there are a lot of things we think we can do with congress he went through them. even last night. immigration reform has a good, obviously we're -- we think has a good chance. there's housing finance. we'd like to get unemployment benefits, unemployment insurance extended. manufacturing hubs, which is something that has a lot of bipartisan support. so the point is he'll work with congress on a lot of issues and we're going to continue to pursue that but he's not president of washington, he's president of america. there's a lot of -- much of the progress that's being made is being made outside of -- in the country outside of washington. what we found, the way we think about it, really is how can you leverage whatever it is that he has the authority to do to make
progress. the united states, the united states goth is the greatest force on the planet, right? we spend more money than anyone, we hire more people, we -- so if you're leveraging whatever he has the authority to do, it could have a big impact. one example is a rule we did in the fers term on cars. fuel efficiency in cars. you do that, what does that do? the carmakers, automakers are producing more cars. that means new research is being done, new plants are being built, that means new auto dealers are being made. it's looking to see where we can target our resources best where he can use the bully pulpit authority he has to make a big impact and then what is that leverage? that's the sort of -- that's the lens we're using to look at things this year that he can do. >> he's always said he's not president of washington and it looks like you're going back to sort of your tried and true strategy, which is taking it out to the people. tomorrow you're going local. tell us a little bit about taking this message, going to pennsylvania and maryland?
>> we're going to, right now, in maryland, he's going to a costco, which should be amaze. the vice president went to a costco last christmas. costco is the employer who has decided to pay workers are living wage, they pay higher than minimum weage, so that's a good example of how you can continue to be successful but pay your workers a living wage and you're liable to get better, less turnover, better service out of your employees. so we're going there. and then he's going to u.s. steel in pittsburgh and he's going to talk about retirement there. we have offered a new retirement account announcement last night called my r.a. you heard him say last night, we spent too much time trying to come up with a name of it, we settled on my r.a., not so easy to pronounce.
but the workers at this steel plant have great retirement, great benefits. that's not true for all workers as we're more mobile, change manager job -- changing jobs more often. this is the retirement account for people who don't have that kind of pension available to them to save. so -- >> and the strategy for taking the message outside of washington? >> this is -- there's just nothing -- his words are very powerful but the images of us being able to show the american people outside of washington with americans that are either directly affected by what he's doing or are -- or are -- or are the example of the problem that we're trying to solve that just
makes it real for people in a way that you can't get from the east room, no matter how grand that is in the white house. >> do you find it easier to work with the local press in a way too, to get the message out? >> the press, the local press will have, there's buildup leading into, when he's coming and usually a lot of excitement about it as el. so that's a benefit in and of itself. but it is -- but it is -- even if it weren't for that, you would still want him out in the country, even your national coverage is going to be a lot better if you're not in washington. you know, we don't have a billion dollar advertising budget like we did in the re- elect so you have to be more creative about how you put him in the public eye in a way that will get a lot of penetration so we look at not just, what the local media, that's national media likely to cover and what are the audiences that you're not going to reach by network television or print media.
this is why we had a big -- every year we probably have an exponential increase in our use of social media at the white house and we're trying to reach as many audiences as possible. >> you didn't want to commit to social media leading up to this. what does it get you? >> it's been really powerful. each year, it grows, we have an incredibly creative team that works on it. and every year they come up with a lot of new ideas, some of which are a little, perhaps, what you don't actually see because it might be too edgy but
this is, we reach millions of people, millions and millions of people that follow us on at the white house that are on our email list that follow @barackobama on twitter. it's not just reaching people to hear a particular message but they are able to engage. and it's a forum, it's a medium that nothing else can replicate in terms of the personal connection that you have. we find that when we try to make products that are shareable in terms of graphs and charts, when we did the state of the union, i think this is the third year we've done this, while the president is speaking on one after half othe screen at white house.gov, on the other half of the screen, it's enhanced state of the union, we've prepared graphs or interactive charts and pictures of the -- pictures of the individual we're talking about, store roins the side, little facts. no one expects to be seeing news or a speech in just one --
with just one medium, even on television there's going to be a crawl, there's going to be something, some kind of scroll across the screen. we try to make it as interactive as possible and we do develop a relationship with, you know, with these people who are not necessarily supporters but they're interested in what the president is doing. it's exciting to see, what's the next thing going to be? it's not -- there's a team of people far younger than me who are really enknow vative and they've been great. big block of cheese day, an an crew jackson and "west wing" reference, all day we're doing q&a with white house staff on twitter and other platforms. >> you went into the speech, the narrative wasn't great going. in poll numbers not particularly good. there was a narrative in place that the president can't do anything in these last three years.
tell us about his mood going into the speech as he was working on it. >> he was -- you know, he describes it, i think, best, in the david remnick article in the "new yorker" and i've heard him say it before, he considers he happens to be president these eight years and the way he looks at the job and certainly the way he approached the state of the union is, ok, what can i get done? and what can we accomplish, what can we take care of, get in good shape and have it be completed? and then -- but he understands it's a long continuum. what can we advance so the next president can pick it up. climate change, he's going to make a lot of progress dealing
with it but it's not going to be resolved at the ovene his presidency. but what can you -- what are we advancing and that is -- and he has -- that's the theory about with pre-k we introduced it last year, pre-k for all. we got some money appropriated to expand it somewhat just in the last budget agreement and we'll do more this year and we'll keep pushing on it. it's not something you expect to get adopted in a year but you have a couple of years. he looks at this as a long arc. it may with his presidency, what he's able to get done the next three years and it may end up going through the fall for the white house communications director easier to have a president who says, i understand what's happening and what's happening with the press and what it's going to be like and i know that -- you know, he was -- he would be somebody who would tell me, we're going to get through this and we have a whole new plan and you know, we're going to come out of it.
more so than anyone i've ever worked for, he has the ability to do that, to look beyond what's happening right now, we work hard and get through et he's like, we're going to get through this and it makes it a lot easier. >> can you share with us anything he took out of the speech? >> we took things out of the speech that we wanted to -- it was a lot, you know, each year this is the third state of the union i worked on for the president and each year, you know, you say we're not going to have a laundry list, it's going to be short, it's going to be the shortest one yet. and each year you end up, you know, with a high -- it's a high class problem work too much
policy that you're -- to talk about so there are things we chose to hold back. some things that needed more work and some things we'll be talking about later in the year. the executive action and we talk about the pen and the phone, executive action is more the pen, the things he has the authority to do that he can be innovative about, for example the executive order in minimum wage yesterday for federal contractors, but the -- it takes a lot of work. they are -- you are short of maybe bending the government in a way that they're not used to or you're by definition looking at novel ways and it's very -- or if you're trying to leverage private sector to join you in something, it's labor intensive. some of these things have a long lead time. >> you worked in the clinton white house. >> yes. >> tell house how the culture is
different in the clinton white house and the obama white house, eight or 10 years later. >> i'm not only in the white house again but i'm in the exact same office i had, the ventilator still rattles the same way it did 15 years ago. the one word i would use to describe it, the obama white house is a lot less volatile. when i first got to the obama white house that was the word in my head almost immediately. i would say that the decision making progress -- process in the clinton white house was dynamic, i think is a good way to put it, so this is -- so that is a difference and you don't -- how do you spend your time is different as a result of that. >> so no drama obama is true? >> it's true. of course there's drama in the course of any day when you're working in the white house but it is -- it's like -- it's different. all the dynamics of the -- are the same, the flow of the year the interactions with congress
the interactions with the press, the media has changed a lot but human nature hasn't and some of it is very familiar. >> one thing we've asked everybody today is, we've asked them to finish this sentence. the biggest thing i learned about president obama last night was that -- he you probably didn't learn anything about him last night but what have you learned about him in this process that you could share. >> i think when we started the conversation about how he -- how we approach this, he is a very resolute and optimistic guy and sees that there is a ton of good that we can get done. he is -- he's been very clear with the staff, very clear with the cabinet on everyone, you know, pushing the boundaries of our creative thinking and you know, getting outside of the
box. to say if there's something good i can do, some difference i can make, i'm going to do it. even if there are things that appeared to not be as consequential as legislation there's something you can leverage out of that. he wants to look at every opportunity there. so he is someone who really slogs through a process which i'm not sure that comes across. and -- in coverage of him, i mean. whether it was solving the website, dealing with health care in the fall, preparing the months and months of work that went into the n.s.a. issue preparing for the state of the union, he has a lot of patience and focus to get through difficult issues and really thinks them through hard and tracks them and has a very penetrating mind, penetrating question.
so we have a great plan, i mean the one thing that like i said we're going to continue to work with congress but the one thing about having a program focused on executive action, it can be a road map for the year which is what you want out of the state of the union. sometimes, you know, you hope that is what it's going to be but something will happen that takes you off course and you're president of the united states anything that happens in the world affects you. but we have a road map and have things planned throughout the year that come back to issues of opportunity. it's been a really good planning process. >> how much campaigning will he do for the mid term elections? >> that is tb determined. he'll be doing fundraising as will the other principals, you know, the vice president, the first lady, as well as i think she's going to california.
we're in quarter one still. >> we keep reading that speech writer cody keenan grew his beard for this. did he shave it? >> yes. this is good news. he grew a fulsome beard and he is -- i didn't realize, i thought this was just a beard but he is going to shave it. he's going to shave it in pieces. but the great news is that the is that he fenally got rid of the awful beard. as communications director, i had some say in how the person representing the president should look. >> did you tell carney to shave? >> i did but i think maybe it was his mother. i thought it was terrible, the president had derogatory things to say about it but it wasn't
until his mother weighed in that he showed up clean shaven. >> thank you so much jennifer for your time. >> thank you. >> it's time to wrap up here. i want to thank you all of you for sticking in here even with the weather. i thank all our c-span viewers and everybody else out there and i want to thank our partner in this, innovation alliance. have a great day and we hope you come to our next event. \[captioning performed by national captioning institute] \[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] >> today on c-span " washington journal" is next. followed by love -- live coverage of british prime minister david cameron. in about 45 minutes afl-cio deputy chief of staff with reaction to state of the union.
school choice advocates have organized events across the country to promote alternatives to traditional public schools. we will talk to the national school choice week president. ♪ host: good morning, everyone. thursday, january 30. welcome to "washington journal," president obama traveling to milwaukee and nashville to talk about what he laid out in the state of the union. on capitol hill, the senate expected to take up the five-year farm bill after a coalition of democrats and republicans in the house overwhelmingly approved it yesterday. we will stay with congress and get your take on representative michael grimm, a republican of new york, and his behavior after the state of the union address. he threatened